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Is AI-generated child pornography illegal?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Child Pornography

As technology advances, the legal system encounters new challenges, particularly with artificial intelligence’s role in creating content. One such new legal complexity is the treatment of AI-generated child pornography in Texas and under federal law.

Texas law and AI challenges

Child pornography is illegal in Texas, punishable under state and federal statutes. The emergence of AI-generated child pornography introduces intricate legal questions, especially regarding the intent and accountability of those using AI to create such content. Texas law does not specifically mention AI-generated child pornography, but courts could interpret the laws to include AI involvement if the intent to create or possess child pornography is present.

Judicial interpretations and precedents

The federal Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 originally expanded child pornography to include computer-generated images at 18 U.S.C. § 2256(8)(B). Under that Act, under federal law, at least, AI-generated child pornography would unquestionably be illegal under federal law. However, this was voided by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition.

In 2002, the Court ruled that these parts of the CPPA that prohibited sexually explicit computer-generated images were overly broad. As such, the CPPA infringed on the Constitution’s right to freedom of speech. This means that, while child pornography is not a protected right within the Constitution, there are some judicially protected artistic representations of minors that is protected. Where that line is though, is unclear.


In summary, the intersection of AI and child pornography law is a developing area that requires vigilant attention from lawmakers and legal professionals. The ongoing debate over the legality of AI-generated child pornography highlights the need for the legal sector to adapt continually. While no specific laws address AI-generated content in Texas or at the federal level, the principles underlying child pornography laws could be extended to cover such cases. However, if they are, the accused will have constitutional defenses outlined by the Supreme Court.